Category Archives: Governmental / Legislative

PETITION to remove all ramps from highways in Ontario and replace with stairs

Of course we did not actually create a petition to remove all ramps from highways in Ontario and replace them with stairs, that would be ridiculous. However, I do invite you to take a moment to envision such a world where the only access to highways was a set of stairs …. how would people who use cars get around?

This scenario may seem far-fetched, but for millions of people, being unable to gain access to a vital place or service as a result of barriers to access such as a set of stairs, is a daily reality.

This scenario revolves around stairs and ramps, but there are numerous other barriers to access that affect people with disabilities, be they physical, hearing, intellectual, learning, visual or speech related, on a daily basis.

Hopefully, our fake-petition analogy will help some to better understand how barriers affect access.


For more information on barriers to access and accessibility visit


If you are a resident of the Province of Ontario, we would love to include your original signature (ie. Non-electronic) on the petition that will be presented to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. To do this, please print and sign a hardcopy of the petition (any additional signatures provided are greatly appreciated) and mail to: Roll a Mile, 933 Kelsowood Lane, Fergus, ON N1M 3R8.

Please only sign one version of this petition, either the electronic petition or the hardcopy petition.

Thank you for your support of accessibility.


To: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

And to: The Minister of Community and Social Services

And to: Accessibility Standards Advisory Council (Standards Development Committee)

And to: Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees

And to: Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

WHEREAS, it is the duty and responsibility of the Ministry of Community and Social Services to oversee and enforce accessibility standards and requirements set forth under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)

WHEREAS, the AODA sets out compliance enforcement powers and processes as well as administrative penalties for non-compliance with the Act, and grants the power to appoint inspectors for the purposes of the Act and regulations setting out the power, authority and process of inspectors and inspections

WHEREAS, the undersigned petitioners desire to have accessible places, spaces and products and recognize that accessibility requirements will be more widely adapted if proper enforcement and penalties are enforced

NOW THEREFORE the undersigned hereby request that the recipients of this petition establish the necessary programs and procedures for the enforcement, reporting and increased awareness.

WE the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That the Province of Ontario request that the Ministry of Community and Social Services expand current AODA enforcement activities beyond the assessment of voluntarily submitted Accessibility Reports, and use the powers, authority and penalties set forth under the Act to ensure compliance with the requirements therein”


“That the Province of Ontario request the Ministry of Community and Social Services set up a feedback / reporting process for non-compliant and / or inaccessible businesses in Ontario similar to the feedback requirements required of businesses under the Act”


That the Province of Ontario request the Ministry of Community and Social Services increase awareness efforts pertaining to the AODA, accessibility and compliance”

Open Letter to The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Community & Social Services regarding the AODA


September 10, 2012

The Honourable John Milloy, Minister

Ministry of Community & Social Services

6th Floor, Hepburn Block

80 Grosvenor Street

Toronto, Ontario

M7A 1E9

Re: Endorsement of Accessibility Firms

Dear Honourable Minister:

As the Minister in charge of the Ministry overseeing the AODA, I am writing to address the warning on your Ministry’s website advising that the Ministry does not endorse accessibility firms, and in fact warns using such firms “at your own risk”.

Interestingly, it was only this week that the Financial Post featured an article on the World Economic Forum’s annual report which “ranks a country’s competitiveness according to factors such as the state of its infrastructure and its ability to foster innovation” and said “Canada’s economic competitiveness on the world stage is being pulled down by — among other things — government handling of the innovation file”. The non-support of your Ministry of an innovative industry, and an industry that supports and implements your accessibility regulations, is a perfect example of how, “too often, Canada fails to commercialize its good ideas into marketable products and services or capture the value from growth” as the article outlines.

In “Releasing Constraints: Projecting the Economic Impacts of Improved Accessibility in Ontario”, The Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) & Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ARTC) at OCAD University & The Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity (ICP) report that the improved educational attainment, workforce participation and societal access combined with the curb-cut effect and reduction on reliance of social programs, community and family resources that result from the implementation of accessibility leads to more innovative, productive and healthier societies.

With inclusion and diversity driving growth, and the combined purchasing power of persons desiring accessible products and services estimated at $2 trillion dollars, the increase in spending in the next five years in the Tourism Sector projected to increase up to $1.5 million dollars and Consumer Retail Sector up to $9.6 billion dollars, the assistance of accessibility firms that improve accessibility seems like a positive thing to be encouraged, not publicly discouraged.

Accessibility firms, in addition to having extensive experience implementing accessibility programs and having expansive knowledge of the A.O.D.A., its Standards and compliance requirements as well as Federal and Provincial Building Codes, accessibility firms know accessibility. And we don’t just advise on legislated accessibility, we focus on actual accessibility. No legislation is ever going to advise big box stores to wash the wheel handrails on their courtesy wheelchairs, but such small, cost-effective solutions demonstrate the difference between legislated and actual accessibility.

We train staff and businesses to provide adaptive, accommodating service to all customers. We modify website layouts and programming to ensure they are accessible and compatible with assisstive technologies. We go ‘Beyond the Building Code’ and explain the rationale behind the regulations, providing practical strategies and solutions for accommodation. We improve accessibility by increasing awareness with informative seminars, speaking engagements, training sessions, workshops, and marketing and publicity efforts to explain obligations and compliance requirements. In addition, as a fledgling industry, we also have to spread awareness and demonstrate the need for, and benefits of, accessibility. Since most barriers to access exist simply as a result of lack of awareness, accessibility awareness is key to accessibility and can greatly improve understanding and accommodation.

And accessibility firms are comprised of teams including: professional trainers; architects, engineers and designers; disability specialists, project managers, technical specialists, and persons with disabilities. Certainly there may be a few bad apples in the bunch, and businesses can implement the AODA without assistance, however many businesses recognize the opportunities and benefits of accessibility and choose to hire accessibility professionals with practical experience to advise them and help ensure their business is accessible to everyone.

We are not looking to exploit the law and make a quick buck, we are just looking to make Ontario accessible for all. We are also employees with disabilities looking to earn a living at an accommodating, adaptable career in accessibility that highlights our unique skill-sets, and quite frankly, feel it is unfair of the overseeing government body to try and limit the ability of it’s citizens, particularly those with disabilities, from the ability to earn a living.

Accessibility firms aren’t actually expecting your endorsement, but does any other government website warn against a person, product, business or industry sector? Perhaps it is time to read up on Human and Charter Rights. It should also be noted that while your Ministry does not endorse private accessibility firms, it does endorse Accessibility Works, an arm of the government entity Industry Canada. In addition, many Human Resources firms are also assisting businesses to implement accessibility, yet you do not warn against these, or any other firms on your site. Rather than supporting private accessibility firms advocating for, and assisting with making Ontario accessible to all, firms that employ and improve conditions for persons with disabilities, you specifically discourage businesses from using such firms.

The possibilities and opportunities accessibility and inclusion provide are immeasurable and benefit everyone, not just persons with disabilities. Accessibility addresses the core principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity so encouraging and enabling participation and integration for all citizens in all aspects of society including employment, consumerism, and recreation, accessibility is becoming increasingly important as our population ages. For businesses, accessibility expands the reach of their product or service to the entire market resulting in improved and repeat sales while improving corporate perception, customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. Accessibility firms are working to achieve all of this for Ontario.

And while accessibility firms recognize and appreciate the benefits of the AODA and any efforts the Ministry makes in increasing awareness and improving accessibility, we also understand that the true accessibility involves more than just the implementation of your regulations. Under the regulations currently required, businesses have to provide accessible customer service. Quite frankly, accessible customer service doesn’t help those of us still stuck in the parking lot and lip-service doesn’t get us in the door.

So it’s okay that your Ministry doesn’t endorse accessibility firms, because here at Roll a Mile, we endorse ourselves. We pride ourselves on the fact that in addition to our professional designations, all of our consultants and accessibility professionals have first-hand knowledge of disabilities providing a unique ability to advise clients on barriers to access, adaptation, accommodation and accessibility from a unique perspective. In the words of one of our consultants, “You have to live it to know it”, and this unique perspective is incorporated into all of our accessibility efforts. And really, who better to advise on accessibility than those who encounter barriers to access on a daily basis?

At Roll a Mile, we don’t need government endorsement, we have our PwD’s.

Yours Sincerely,

Donna M. Jack

President, Roll a Mile

Accessibility ~ That’s how we roll

(519) 823-3046


Disabilities Act

My eleven year old step-daughter had to do her current events assignment on a recent item in the newspaper about human rights. So humbled she chose mine. This is what she wrote:

Disabilities Act

My current events article is about the new Disability Act that has new laws that all businesses have to follow by January 1, 2012. These laws are to help make it easier for people with disabilities to access goods and services. There are a lot of reasons why it is good for businesses to do this, not just because it is the law.

The new laws don’t really cost the businesses any money, they just have to make new rules about customer service and teach their employees these rules. This helps make sure everyone who works for them understands what accessibility is, why it is important, and how to help people with disabilities. The new laws also mean businesses have to have rules about letting in service animals, and assistive devices like wheelchairs or scooters.

The connection to the Focus on Faith theme, human rights and responsibilities is that all people deserve equal opportunities and access to goods and services and that they can do this while being independent and keeping their dignity. This means that people with disabilities don’t have to ask for help or rely on someone else for help. Ways businesses can do this are to teach their employees to understand sign-language, or to use a pen and paper to talk to people who are deaf. It could mean having a Braille or large print menus for someone who is blind or has trouble seeing.

The new laws make a lot of sense. They help people with disabilities to get goods and services. The new laws were made to help make sure people with disabilities have dignity and independence. They also help businesses to make more money. If more customers can buy their products, the business will make more money. And if their customers have good experiences with employees and accessibility, they will come back again, and spend more money. The new laws in the Disability Act will help people with disabilities and businesses.

Piper J., 11 yrs.

Barriers to Access

A barrier to access is anything inhibiting or preventing a person with a disability from access, including obstacles that inhibit performance of the day-to-day activities such as shopping, transportation, attending school, or going to work.Persons with disabilities face numerous and substantial barriers affecting all aspects of life.

All of the following types of barriers can impede access to: education, employment, healthcare, housing, transportation, products and services, and recreation for persons with disabilities.

Not all barriers are visible or apparent, and lack of awareness is the cause of almost all barriers.


Architectural & Physical Barriers

Structural features of buildings or spaces that inhibit, or prevent, access for people with disabilities.

Examples: Blocked aisles, narrow doorways, lack of ramps

Information & Communications Barriers

Unclear and inaccessible information and communications can seriously hinder understanding and comprehension for persons with disabilities.

Examples: Signs that are not clear or easily understood, Information that is unclear or unavailable in a variety of accessible formats

Attitudinal Barriers

The most pervasive and prevalent barrier of all, misconceptions, myths and stereotypes regarding persons with disabilities result in discriminatory or condescending treatment of persons with disabilities and prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in society.

Examples: Belief that people with disabilities are inferior or incapable, Belief that a person with a speech impediment also has an intellectual disability

Technology Barriers

Occur when a technology can’t be modified to support various assistive devices or requirements

Examples: A website un-supportive of screen-reading software, voice-mail or telephone systems requiring voice response or numeric keypad entry

Systemic Barriers

Organizational policies, procedures, and practices that discriminate and inhibit access to goods, services or employment for people with disabilities.

Example: Non-accessible hiring processes, off-site job required attendance at non-accessible locations

For more information visit